What have been the main drivers of Norway’s approach to the post-9/11 international engagement in Afghanistan? This paper considers two main types of driver. First, it examines the importance of threat to domestic security, including plans for, or actual, acts of terror as well as the perception of threat. Second, the paper assesses the importance of alliance dependence – the extent to which the country’s basic security is seen to hinge on its role in the NATO alliance – and, in addition, domestic political cleavages and issues of self-identification; in the current context the emphasis will be on Norway’s identity as a ‘peace nation’. Furthermore, the specific operational environment in which Norway is engaged matters for policy change. Overall, for Norway, alliance considerations are the key impetus to the engagement. The post-9/11 engagement in Afghanistan has proved to be extremely challenging. Deep differences of opinion have threatened the consensus-based foreign policy tradition. Inherent tensions between a policy driven by Norway’s perceived security needs and the country’s profile as an impartial contributor to peaceful settlement of conflict worldwide have been brought to the fore.

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